The story was submitted by Catherine, the daughter of Jorg, a couple of years back. It was emailed directly to the European director for Airbnb, and made its way pretty fast to the executive staff. The story was used multiple times already in speeches or in other interviews. So the story was not new.
Making the connection between the Berlin wall guard stories and the 25th year anniversary was something I can take credit for. It was in a phone conversation with Marcus Tandler, where we were discussing the potential to do some local outreach for content projects we were planning in Berlin. We were planning 20 long form articles on the Berlin Neighborhood pages, and an interactive infographic of the Airbnb economic impact study. These content pieces would be all interlinked, with the objective to have the infographic catch the attention of main stream press, get coverage, and funnel the traffic, visitors and links equity to the long form articles.
Obviously, the fact I grew up in Europe, growing up with the Berlin wall, I knew how significant the wall coming down was, and that the event of 25 years anniversary would be big.
From the moment of the realization, I started to speak about the opportunity to put ourselves into the conversation of the wall anniversary. That was in February.
Every time I spoke with the exec staff, they were all supportive and interested. But nothing concrete from a budget perspective came out of that.
It wasn’t until the new CMO for Airbnb was hired, I knew I had a chance to get this done. Jonathan Mildenhall, who came from Coke, was the driving force behind their Content2020 strategy.
When I presented a deep dive on SEO for Jonathan, I tailored the presentation around content, and how it drives the SEO growth. With a specific deep dive into the Niethborhood platform, why it was working and what was missing, some success in an earlier Infographic of economic impact studies, and how we could fold three content projects into one giant push in Berlin to drive three main goals:
- Get a disproportional amount of media coverage
- Drive brand awareness by being part of the cultural conversation
- Through Social & Media engagement, drive a better SEO footprint to drive bookings in Berlin
The language I used explaining these objectives was very much influenced in how the Content2020 strategy was explained in the video here.
At the same time, I brought in a new framework to easily explain how these content projects all fit together, and why these had to be combined to get the biggest impact. I call this the Content-Brand Pyramid, which I’m still working on to develop more.
ROI was derived from the different objectives.
- We got more than 200 press hits in major media publications. What was funny was that the PR team at first didn’t want to push the story, as it was “not a new story and we had used it several times“. Though my contacts, I was able to get it on Inc and Mashable, where the PR team at that time was high fiving each other… :_D
- We owned 2.2% of the conversation on social around the Berlin Wall anniversary. Our landing page URL was the 8th most shared link in this conversation, where our brand twitter handle was the 9th most mentioned brand
- The microsite site & the economic impact IG picked up a lot of external links, which were all interconnected with the long form articles which drive top of funnel search traffic for potential Berlin travelers. Unfortunately I don’t have updated numbers here, since I don’t have access anymore.
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Inspired by the success of earlier campaigns in the year, and confident enough to propose the idea and opportunity to a brand new CMO, I took some risk to pitch the opportunity to break into a very relevant cultural event happening in one of the top markets in Europe; the 25th anniversary of the Berlin Wall coming down. Airbnb had highlighted the story of two former wall guards who met in an Airbnb listing in former East-Berlin before, but never at a scale as I envisioned. This was a chance to tell this wonderful story as a stand alone, not as as a paragraph of a larger conversation. This was the chance to apply some of the Coca-Cola Content 2020 principles to an Airbnb campaign. This video sums it up nicely.